The minority Labor government in Australia’s Queensland on Thursday evening introduced legislation that observers say would reverse the land use-related carbon emissions growth in the state, which threatens to throw Australia off course towards meeting its international climate obligations.
The legislation seeks to restore land-clearing control after former state Premier Campbell Newman’s Liberal party removed most barriers to clearing land in 2013, which caused the state’s carbon emissions to double in just one year.
If passed, it would restore a 2006 ban on broad scale clearing, reinstate regulation on high-value regrowth forest, and remove obstacles to prosecuting illegal clearing.
“We expect that if this bill is passed, Queensland carbon emissions from deforestation will once again go into decline,” said Martin Taylor, conservation science manager with WWF Australia.
Earlier this month, the Queensland government released a report warning that the state’s GHG emissions could increase by more than 50 million tonnes per year by 2030, making Australia’s pledge to cut emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels in that timeframe almost impossible to achieve.
It found that land-clearing would account for about a third of that rise.
However, the Queensland administration is a minority government, so it remains unclear if it will be able to pass the legislation.
“We recognise this is a minority government and it won’t be easy, but are hopeful that all MPs – if they look honestly at the objects and purposes of the Act to conserve remnant vegetation, prevent loss of biodiversity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and if they look honestly at the fact that none of these things are happening – will agree that the Act does need to be fixed,” WWF’s Taylor said.
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org